Is God an Essential Part of Recovery?

Is God an Essential Part of Recovery?

You can listen to Dr. Stoop today, being interviewed live on his new book at 9:05 am pacific/12:05 pm eastern at …or you can listen to the free podcast of the interview available right after the live show at

There’s a lot of controversy about the importance of God and faith in a person’s recovery from an addiction of any sort.  Here’s the findings of a longitudinal study of 198 juvenile offenders that will be published in this month’s issue of Alcohol Treatment Quarterly.

The authors of the study report that in many cases, the problems of addiction were directly related to a lack of purpose and a sense of not fitting in.  They found that two key elements in the 12 steps were key to successful recovery.  One was the 12th step which relates to helping others, and the other was the 2nd step–finding our higher power.  In other words, developing a relationship with God.

Those who took the time to share with another addict, or even just helping set up for meetings, or cleaning up after a meeting–those who participated were more likely to maintain sobriety six months after discharge from the program.  This is significant in that 70% of those who finish the program relapse within that time period.

Nearly half of the group identified themselves as agnostic, atheist, or nonreligious when they entered the program.  Developing a connection with God gave these young people a sense of purpose, which reduced their self-absorbed thinking.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to those who know the spiritual roots of AA.  It’s founders were devout believers, and the more they included God in their meetings, the higher the success rate for recovery and sobriety.  That apparently is still true, as this report suggests.

What happens in our brains when we get involved with God and with helping others?  It appears that when a person is involved in self-absorbed thinking, they are prisoners of their left brain hemisphere.  This side of the brain, left to itself, will tend to ruminate on problems which leads to increased social anxiety.  But when we have an intense spiritual experience, the right hemisphere of our brain is awakened and balances out the tendencies of the left hemisphere.  One subject said, “I need a power greater than myself to enter my life!”  How true!

Question:  Who do you know that struggles with addiction someone who needs to allow God to be part of the process?  Share this with them.

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3 Responses to Is God an Essential Part of Recovery?

  1. Scot Hundley says:

    Dave, this is a fantastic article that is incredibly true. We are experiencing situations where the courts are truly recognizing that a strong faith based element to recovery makes more sustained impact in long term sobriety. Thank you for all you do and your wisdom and encouragement.

    Scott Hundley
    Columbus, Indiana

  2. Paul says:

    Excellently written, I needed a HP to get me connected into the mainstream of life, This is so so true. It’s fantastic to see many many people recognising the problem & getting onto the AA program of life.

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